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Clarification for patients taking Azathioprine

Updated on: 03 Mar 2021   First published on 24 Mar 2020

Our advice and guidance around COVID-19 is being regularly reviewed. Visit https://www.bsg.org.uk/covid-19-advice/ to see the latest published guidance.


The BSG is issuing this statement for the benefit of people with IBD who are taking Azathioprine. Please read it carefully.

To Patients taking Azathioprine as their only drug for Inflammatory Bowel Disease
(this does not refer to liver patients*)

You may have recently received a text message from the NHS if you are taking the drug Azathioprine. This precaution was taken to protect as many people as possible whilst specialty advice for the IBD patient group was confirmed.

Specialty advice has been widely circulated now and for IBD patients most people will fall into the moderate risk category. Please see the advice grid published at the CCUK and BSG websites.

IBD patients (without complicating factors) on single drug Azathioprine, are advised to follow full social distancing measures in line with Government recommendations.

This message comes from specialty teams of doctors at the British Society of Gastroenterology working with our charity sector partners, the Royal College of Physicians and other stakeholders.

*Further information for liver patients can be found here.

Social Distancing

The Prime Minister announced last night new social distancing measures which affect us all.

If you are in the Moderate Risk Group you should be taking active measures to follow strict social distancing. This allows you to still have contact with family members living in your home and allows you to perform essential food shopping if required. It also allows you to take an episode of exercise daily outside, on your own or with a family member.

By contrast people in the High Risk Group are being asked to self-isolate within their home: keeping to one room and no external contact. This ultra- tough isolation is for the High Risk group only.

Guidance may change as circumstances change.

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